TGFU – Cricket Lesson

Every now and again something on Twitter catches my eye and gets me thinking. A year or two ago, someone shared a link to an article about Teaching Games for Understanding (TFGU) that got me exploring it more and more in my own Physical Education classes. Just recently I found this video about using Teaching Games for Understanding for teaching striking games.  As we are doing striking games with year 8 at the moment (with a focus on Softball and Cricket), I thought I could apply this really well to teaching Cricket and some of the strategies and decision making that takes place. This morning I tried it, and I’m very pleased to say it worked really well and we’ll do it again next week with a added modifications.

Because this video is focused on students who are a little younger, I used a similar set up but changed the rules to be more specific to cricket. I used ropes to set out the four playing fields and had sets of stumps in each one. I used the markers at the end of the ropes for the batters to run around to score runs and, instead of a hula hoop, used a marker to show the bowler where to bowl from.

With 6-8 students in each game it provides greater involvement in the game meaning students practice their skills more which is also a benefit, however the biggest benefit is the way the smaller games, with limitations added allowed for students to think about strategy/tactics and how to use their skills to be successful in the game. It also allowed me to group students together who were of similar skill levels which can be difficult in larger groups.

I used the following rules:

  • Bowlers had to attempt to bowl with a straight arm, but after a few goes could revert to underarm if they wanted to (many didn’t take this choice which surprised me in a co-ed class)
  • Players had to hit the ball so that it stayed in their quadrant. Balls hit outside their quadrant on the full were out.
  • Players could score fours using the normal geographical boundaries of the field.
  • Players had to rotate fielding positions as batters and bowlers changed so they learned the different skills/decision making issues at each spot.

The first time everyone batted, we played hit and run to keep everyone moving through quickly. However, the second time through, the players could choose to run when they felt like it. They had to make decisions on whether they’d hit it far enough to make it around the marker and back, how far it was from a fielder etc. This decision making was much more easily introduced in this form than ‘normal’ cricket because they had a smaller playing field to work in.

Other observations of the lesson today (and in comparison to other cricket lessons):

  • More students were actively engaged than usual.
  • When fielding, players had to think about where to stand to cut off runs or to give themselves the best chance of getting a player out if they wanted to get a bat themselves
  • Batters were actually choosing which balls to hit to avoid hitting it out of their quadrant
  • Bowlers who were able were trying to bowl in areas that would entice batters to hit it out of the quadrant or to where their fielders were.
  • Students were asking and answering their own questions about how to get players out, or how to succeed.

I encourage you to have a crack at using something similar.

17 thoughts on “TGFU – Cricket Lesson

  1. Nice post Jay. Cricket is one of those games that is very hard to make student engagement and enjoyment in a mixed ability co-ed class successful. I liked the way you modified the rules and environment to achieve what you wanted to do. Without putting you on the spot, can I ask two questions? What were you trying to achieve with lesson configured as it was? What sort of teacher talk was there during the lesson (did you explain in detail what you were doing, or was it a cunning plan you kept to yourself and just got the kids to do it?) Top stuff – keep the good news coming 🙂 Jonesy

  2. Thanks for the comment Jonesy. I’ll start with your second question first. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of teacher talk at the start of the lesson other than to explain what the basics of the game were – ie organisation and how it built on the last lesson, which was a basic introduction to the game and practicing hitting, bowling etc. (just as an aside, I’d probably use this as the first lesson but I only discovered it this week!)

    Now for your first question, what was I planning to achieve? There were a few things. Better participation/engagement in the game. Too often hitting games like cricket are played in just one game where there’s only one batter and one bowler and a lot of others not in the game. This provided an answer to this.
    Another thing I wanted was to have students thinking about strategy. Many people who haven’t played cricket don’t think about the importance of where to field (actually a number of people I played cricket with don’t either), where to bowl and even what balls to hit and where. Putting restrictions on some of these things and having a field that was different to the normal cricket also made the students who had played before think about strategy too. Perhaps some of the girls didn’t think about strategy as much, but they still had to think about whether or not hit a ball that would go out of the quadrant or where they should throw to, even though they are still spending a good deal of thought to actually bowling etc.

  3. Great post Jay! We are currently reconfiguring practical lesson programs with greater focus on FMS but I think TGFU would be ideal! Will look more onto this and will definitely be using your ideas here. Do you have plans to try it in different sports too? Will look into this too. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive that’s for sure. When I coach sporting teams I’m always surprised how few of the players actually read a game or are tactically aware so I’ve been trying to work out the best way of teaching that in my classes. It’s not easy though but small advances are good.

      1. Google Game Sense and FMS research and you will come across a paper presented at a AARE conference about the use of game sense-TGfU to teach fundamental sport skills

  4. Enjoyed the post, Jay; thanks for sharing. A trademark of TGfU is the use of pre-planned questions used by the teacher to guide student development of game appreciation and tactical understanding – how did that go?

    1. Hi Shane, thanks for the comment. I only went in with a handful of questions that I thought would be useful. The focused on how to avoid getting out for the batter, what tactics the bowler could employ to try and get them out given the constraints on the game, how/what the fielders can do to stop players scoring runs, and I was also planning to ask what decisions did the batters need to make about when to run, but didn’t use it more than once. The use of questions is definitely something I’m hoping to improve as I keep trialling Tgfu in other areas.

      1. If you are doing cricket again, the Cricket Australia S’Cool Cricket resource for primary schools is a game sense/TGfU cricket program that has some focus questions presented to get this aspect of TGfU pedagogy underway.

  5. Great blog. Shows the benefits of TGFU but also how it can be used to differentiate learning to promote success of all students. Posts like these of first hand experiences will hoepfully encourage more teachers to use models like TGFU to teach physical education

    1. Thanks Vicky. Hopefully, others will find it useful. I think I focus on putting too much of my theory teaching and tech ideas on my blog so I need to balance it up a bit with some other things that have worked, and maybe even some that haven’t.

  6. Sound like a great lesson Jay.

    I know Games for Understanding is something that was drilled into us back in teacher training in England. Therefore it is something I try and use in all lessons.

    The problem is finding new resources to help stiumlate ideas. I did recently attend a great PD with Greg Forrest from Wollongon Uni (

    However, it would be great to pool together some resources from likeminded teachers who are using these lessons at the coleface and can give feedback such as yours as to how they went.

    I know one game I use that is good for striking and fielding strategy is Danish Longball which is generally engaging because its something a bit different.

    Thanks for the post and the ideas!

  7. I agree James, but I don’t think it’s just in practical settings that we need that kind of sharing. I think it’s in all areas of our teaching. That’s why I started my blog, so I could try and share some of what I’m doing so people could pick out what they see as the good bits and give me feedback on what I can do better. Unfortunately, I just haven’t been regular enough (or there haven’t been enough successes to share!).

    1. Re: Pooling resources – some good resources for practical ideas include McCormacks Basketball Game Intelligence, Horst Wien’s (Soccer) Game Intelligence, Teaching sport concepts & skills: A tactical games approach, Play with Purpose, Transforming Play-teaching tactics and game sense, S’Cool Cricket, Game Sense-10 sample Gaelic Football sessions, (and just released) – Developing game sense through tactical learning: and for lower primary PE, the AASC playing for life kit.
      Great discussions – well done, Jay.

    1. It’s a goody. We had plenty of discussion about it in our office today. Suggest some good ways of adapting it for Softball which is the next hitting game I’m playing. Will hopefully blog about that too. I was wishing I had my phone or tablet with me in the class to take some video of my own class playing cricket. Will try and remember to take it next time.

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